Yesterday was Sunday. I often visit my mom on weekends…and often those visits consist of us chatting in her condo. Which, you know, is great…but after a long winter, we’ve done enough sitting inside. Today we went for a drive…and drove past the old family farm.
Since I’ve begun learning more about the history of this area and of my own genealogy, I’ve learned that my grandpa grew up in Hochstadt, which was originally a Mennonite settler village located between our family farm and Kleefeld. Hochstadt had been on my school bus route, and, like Rosengard, I was fascinated by the unusual grouping of homes, and the way the creek ran right through a corner of it. So today I decided to drive through Hochstadt, probably for the first time since I was a kid on the bus.
Back in the 80’s, there had been half a house sitting on the bank of the creek. It was an old house, and you could see the way the interior was painted and everything. What was the story of that house? Today, it was gone. It was probably swallowed by the creek a long time ago.
From Hochstadt, you can see the twin silos of the farm site upon which I was raised. It’s just one mile away, but there is no road to connect our farm to Hochstadt; just a road allowance. I don’t think it ever dawned on me that my grandpa had bought a farm that was really just one mile from his boyhood home.
We continued to the farm. Or, The Farm, as I think of it in my head.
I’m very sentimental, and every tree and rock there holds special significance for me. It hurts me to think others wouldn’t have valued each one as I had in my childhood. Not only that, but this was the farm that my grandpa had purchased in 1961, and my dad had bought from my grandpa sometime when I was a kid. So, it’s not like my family was there for that long, really. Not when you think of intergenerational farms that have been in the family for over a century and stuff like that. But it was enough for me to know that I was a kid raised on the exact same farm that my dad was. To me, this was fascinating and very special.
My grandma loved plants, and it seemed like everything she touched, thrived. She loved exploring the bush, and knew and cared for the flowers she found there. I remember as a girl sitting in her living room, she handed me a book and showed me the flowers that grew around our farm, and instructed me to respect them. Never pick the lady slippers, never pick the tiger lilies. They are rare and should be protected. (We had this conversation after I had done just that. I never did it again.)
A ways past the old farm, I stopped the car and got out and went into the ditch and picked a flower. It was not a rare protected species, but rather a little orange-coloured blossom. To me, its scent is better than lilacs. I remember my dad telling me that was his favourite flower. I mentioned this to mom, and she reflected that when they were dating, my dad would pick her bouquets of that flower from the ditch near the farm. My mom and I sat in the car, breathing in the scent of this flower.
There was a time that driving past the old farm would have caused me a searing sort of emotional pain…but that time is over. I’m able to drive past it again, and I feel more wistful and reflective. Perfect for a Sunday afternoon drive.
(Feature photo: My very handsome grandpa Koop, auctioning a Holstein heifer in 1961, to raise money to purchase the farm. The place he is standing later became my grandma’s lush, oversize garden.)